Black Ethics and Drone Politics


by BAR editor and columnist Jemima Pierre

They ought to call it the Nobel Death from the Sky Prize. “Barack Obama is leading a multi-country gangster-style drone war that kills people whose identities aren’t known, and that has left more than 3000 dead, including 176 children.” Yet Black America remains largely silent in “the face of such overwhelming death, despair, and destruction done on our behalf by our Black president.”


Black Ethics and Drone Politics

by BAR editor and columnist Jemima Pierre

For some Black preachers, gay marriage is obviously more of an abomination than endless war and wanton murder.”

It would be hard to miss the recent media coverage of the ethical and legal problems posed by the Obama administration’s drone warfare program. With a couple of widely circulated academic studies and a CNN security report, the issue of drones has finally seeped into mainstream consciousness. Yet many people in this country seem to be un-phased by the havoc wreaked by these death machines. More telling is how many on the so-called left go out of their way to either ignore the ethical questions and human casualties of drones, or to cravenly defend their indefensible use by the US government.

Two of the more damning critiques of the US drone program come from the joint study by the Stanford Law School International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic and New York University Law School’s Global Justice Clinic, and from Columbia University Law School’s Center for Civilians in Conflict. The Stanford/NYU report, “Living Under Drones,” is based on field research in Pakistan, including more than 130 interviews with survivors of drone attacks or family members who were victims of attacks. The report demonstrates how only two percent of attacks reach their intended targets resulting in massive civilian casualties. But it also focused on the psychological repercussion, including anxiety and depression, suffered by Pakistanis who have to live under the constant buzz of drones hovering overhead 24 hours a day, not knowing when – or who – they will kill.

Many people in this country seem to be un-phased by the havoc wreaked by these death machines.”

The Columbia University Study, “The Civilian Impact of Drone Strikes: Unexamined Costs, Unanswered Questions,” challenged the government’s assumption that drones are “a panacea for counterterrorism efforts.” It pointed to the Obama administration’s unprecedented secrecy around drone attacks, but also how, for the US public, drones have become an acceptable part of contemporary warfare. The authors of the Columbia study also argued that one of the reasons for the lack of a public outcry over the use of drones is because media coverage of such attacks are sanitized: there are no pictures of the victim killed, no photos of the villages destroyed, and no images of damage done to local environments. All we see are images of drones. Add that to the lack of US citizen and military casualties, we get a response that combines indifference with consent to the government’s atrocious actions abroad.

But in an election year, and in the face of mounting criticism of Obama’s deployment of drones, the white liberal left and other party loyalists have been forced to respond. Their responses, though, are often more morally repugnant than any racist rambling by Tea Party members. In a series of conversations in liberal venues there has been a consistent set of responses to some of the even more tepid critiques of drone warfare. Some of the more common are: 1) Obama has to win so that Romney doesn’t get to control drone warfare; 2) the data showing civilian casualties are sketchy; 3) targeted assassinations are not new to US foreign policy; 4) Romney would do the same or worse; 5) at least we’re saving US lives by not having “boots on the ground” or; 6) leftist radicals need to stop whining and vote for the lesser of two evils. One liberal even went so far as to brazenly argue: "It’s not obvious that drone strikes are indefensible and, even if they are morally wrong, they shouldn’t determine your vote alone."

There are no pictures of the victim killed, no photos of the villages destroyed, and no images of damage done to local environments.”

So now it’s the Democratic Party base defending drone bombing of “suspects” – and innocents – without the courtesy of proof or trial. By comparison, the Bush administration’s “shock and awe” and torture policies were a walk in the park on a lovely spring day.

But at least the white liberals are having a discussion. Aside from a few notable exceptions, it’s been all crickets in the US Black community when it comes to talking about Obama’s criminal actions in office. And for some Black preachers, gay marriage is obviously more of an abomination than endless war and wanton murder. Others in the Black community have even participated in the morbid celebrations over the killing of Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi – killings that occurred without so much as evidence of guilt or even the pretense of due process. Barack Obama is leading a multi-country gangster-style drone war that kills people whose identities aren’t known, and that has left more than 3000 dead, including 176 children. Some of the victims have been U.S. citizens. His administration’s actions are immoral, indefensible, and cruel. They are also shortsighted. And they are done in our names, and our children’s names.

Now it’s the Democratic Party base defending drone bombing of “suspects” – and innocents – without the courtesy of proof or trial.”

As Obama has spearheaded this dangerous new world of drones, we have to believe that this new war will come with the inevitable blowback. CNN reports that more than 70 countries now own some type of drone. And even though only the US, UK, and Israel have used weaponized drones against adversaries, it’s only a matter of time before we see their proliferation (and we can bet that they will be turned on us domestically).

It remains to be seen how many will stand by silently and allow this slide down the steep slope of moral depravity. For Black folk to remain silent – or even ambivalent – in the face of such overwhelming death, despair, and destruction done on our behalf by our Black president is, at best, indefensible. At worse, we’re just as criminally responsible as that drone pilot in Nevada who presses the red button on his joystick extinguishing human life as though he were playing a video game.

No man, no political party, and no amount of racial allegiance should demand of us that we give up our humanity in the name of murder. It’s time we raise our voices against drone killings.

Jemima Pierre can be reached at [email protected].


Empires die within before perishing without

I use to write in BAR repeatedly that the US is a failed state.  I only wish we could be rescued by humanitarian intervention, but our arrogance and hubris won't allow.

EVERY institution in America has failed.  And we are now faced with the stark and sad reality that the institution that used to be the shining light and beacon of hope--the Black Church-- is now an ass-wipe.  Nothing but a pathetic caricature.  And let's be clear.  African Americans or "Blacks" have embraced/adopted the same sick values of their White counterparts, the worship of money and status before god and humankind. 

Interesting how a so-called Christian Nation--the US--is now nothing more than a nation of manna intoxicated, devil-worshippers.  Karma is a bitch and all of use will reap what we sow.

The US's arrogance won't allow it to consider the possibility that dark and brown skinned peoples, or "backward" white ones for that matter, are incapable of reverse-engineering technology.  Can't wrap our tiny, little minds around this despite the glaring evidence than we rank in the mid to lower "20s" in scientific/educational achievement.

History also indicates that most Empires die from environmental degradation.  Environmentally we WILL poison ourselves, with no cures in sight, despite the introduction of a "hard science" savant or two here and there.  No amount of Nobel Prizes will save us.  Think about how many billions we've spent on cancer research with no cure. Why is that?  Because "The Greatest Threat to the Western  Way of Life is the Western Way of Life" 

When the economic advantages of industrialization have dissipated, humanity will still be stuck in a world filled with bioundegradable junk, hazardous sites, raped environments, the unending consequences of the often accidental importation of alien species, polluted air and water, and numerous other consequences, the costs of which economists have never taken into consideration. And the progeny of both the rich and the poor alike will have to live with them. The pockets full of money that the rich have won’t prevent their children and grandchildren from breathing bad air or drinking bad water or dealing with environmental degradation. These children and grandchildren may someday curse the days their fathers and grandfathers were born. Capitalism, as we know it, is reaching its endgame. The meek who inherit the earth will find it to be worthless.. 

We are already dead, it's simply a matter of time before the coroner makes it official.  If it's any consolation its that the progeny of the 1 percenters will suffer asthma, skin diseases, cancer and other ills at the same rate as us 47 percenters.  Poetic justice?  You tell me.

RE: Obama-Laiden Negroes Cheer Obama's War Policies

I knew intutitively that Dr Mike Dyson wasn't the only Obama-Laiden negro to view the slaughtering of Khadaffi- regardless of the hellish turmoil unleashed in Libya [especially RE: Black Libyan's & Migrants from other African countries] in the process- which continues till this day, as a BIG PLUS for O-Bomb-er [NOTE DN!'s debate between Dyson & BAR's Glen Ford RE backing Obama's candidacy].

Well this article linked to an Oct 2011 article @ the [supposed] Black orientated web-site 'The Root' [closely linked to the alleged 'liberal / progressive' MSNBC] entitled: 'Qadaffi Dead: One More Success for Obama' - Here are some low-lite excerpts: } The dictator's death reminds us that -- despite claims that Obama has failed -- he's had a lot of success.

Just like the widely hailed death of Osama bin Laden in May or the more recent -- and more controversial -- death of Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki at the hands of the U.S. military, the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi at the end of an 8 month fight between loyalists & NATO-backed rebels was accompanied by minimal fanfare from Obama's admin despite its key role, with the president stoically reporting Thursday that "one of the world's longest-serving dictators is no more." [Notice he fails to mention those 10,000  FUK-US NATO bombing runs & 100s cruise-missle attacks -&- that O-Bomb-er et-al LIED that this was NOT about regime-change & assassination.]

If there's one precedent that's been set by Pres Obama over the last 3 yrs, it's that the violent end of even a hated foe isn't something he'll brag about or gloat over. But make no mistake about it -- although Qaddafi's death is realistically more of a nominal Mid-East reset than a gleaming "Mission Accomplished" moment, it represents the triumph of Obama's firm reinstatement of Teddy Roosevelt's "speak softly and carry a big stick" mantra in American foreign policy.

It also illustrates the way forward for our role as NATO's lead dog, where Obama's strategy -- pilloried by critics as "leading from behind" for insisting that the UK, France & othe NATO powers share the burden for the military operations that they authorize -- was validated again.

Libya is just another example of Obama finishing the unfinished business of his predecessors. U.S. warplanes bombed Tripoli in 1986, but it wasn't Ronald Reagan who ultimately deposed Qaddafi. It was Obama. Whether you think it was worth the effort to hunt down & kill bin Laden, it wasn't George W. Bush who did it in 7 yrs -- it was Obama who did it in two.

The standard has now been set: Qaddafi was dispatched without a single American casualty… If Obama isn't re-elected, he'll still leave behind a military where gays and lesbians serve openly… The irony is that Obama might wind up getting voted out for the same reason that his influence will be hard to erase: He's been too busy getting things done. {


I won't comment on the 'Bin Laden Kill' hype beyond IMO Bin Laden likely died @ Tora Bora in Dec 2001- & that O-Bomb-em, unlike other hated Islamic foes in the phony 'War on Terror' [= War on Islam], didn't even bother proving that whoever they killed in the raid that 'officially' killed off the 'Bin Laden Legend', before allegedly dumping his body in the bottom of the sea. And also that the 'bin Laden Kill' hype sucked all of the wind out of the news of FUK-US NATO's slaughtering of Khadaffi's 2 small grand-kids the previous day, as they tried to assassinate Khadaffi by smart-bomb- which of course this 'ROOT' Obama-laid propagandist failed to make the comparison w that of the 1986 Reagan-Thatcher air-raid that tried to assassinate Khadaffi by bombing his home- killing his small daughter in the process.

And not even this Obama-Laiden hyper @ 'The Root' could defend the obviously illegal / extra-judicial drone murder of an American [al-Awlaki]. But the author makes a point that Obama did NOT gloat over Khadaffi's dead body. HELL He did NOT need to- He had his Sec of State Hitlery / Killery{I Came, I Saw, He Died- Ha, ha, ha}Clinton do it for him!!! IMO its telling that this 'Root' article compared O-Bomb-er's foreign policy to Teddy Roosevelt's- who was an un-apologetic Anglo-American imperialist [& racist]! Except now O-Bomb-er has set a new standard how to devasted a country via remote control [via drones & smart-bombs & cruise-missiles] with-out having to put US troops 'In Harm'sWay'. Obviously if the US draft is a 'Poverty Draft' & US wars have become more 'remote-control virtual warfare', then most so-called 'main-stream' Americans are likely to become even more dis-interested. IMO That's one of the main lessons that the DoD learned from Vietnam, during which every day main-stream News outlets CBS, NBC & ABC brought reports from the battle-fields of Vietnam on TV. These gave folks in the US a dose of the horrible reality of war [IE: real 'Reality TV' - this was unique- IMO it has NOT happened either before {home TV was uncommon in WWII & even during Korea} or since Vietnam]. Thus the people rose-up against both the Dims' LBJ & the Repugs' Tricky Dick, & demanded that the US get out of 'Nam'. So the DoD has been careful to control the public image of its wars [via highly orchestrated propaganda] ever since. And by replacing the mandatory draft w the 'poverty' draft  & now so-called smart remote-controlled warfare, 'main-stream' America is 'safely' detatched from the horrific reality of US imprialist over-seas Wars. 

PS: IMO its interesting that in their efforts to go 'main-stream' LGBTs clamored for the right to be main-streamed into the US Military-Industrial-Surveillance-Security-Complex by insisting DADT be struck-down.


This Oct 7 2012 article 'Why This Election is About More Than Drones' @ [white liberal] '' [Oh Really?] is just about as bad as the one that danced all over Khadaffi's Grave @ 'The Root'. I won't quote it at-length but it was a lame response to an article that condemned O-Bomb-er's drone policy as a deal-breaker & reason enough for progressive anti-war folks NOT to vote for either him or Raw-Money. This Think{non}Progress article responds by saying well OK but- we can't say definitvely that Obama's drone war policy is all that bad because the details are secret. Then it says that the election is more than about drones by Stating: ' Lack of health care kills up to 45,000 Americans yearly. Romney wants to repeal the most significant effort to limit these preventable deaths in American history and doesn’t appear have a real policy alternative...' - Well HELLO! Obama-Care IS RMoney-Care [aka Obama-RMoney Care - DUHH!!!] rolled out nation-wide- instead of just in the State of Mass where RMoney passed it as Gov.  

And it also States: 'Climate change could take 100 million lives around the globe; Romney belongs to a party that denies the reality of climate change and mocks the issue himself while Obama has taken modest but important steps toward addressing it'... - First: 'Climate-change' [why did they stop saying Global-Warming] might-perhaps-could-possibly take 100 million lives some time in the future -BUT- O-Bomb-er's Drones have killed 3000 people right now; -  The nexus of  FUK-US NATO / GCC  / NTC's Rebel-rousing Racist Lynch Mobs [on O-Bomb-er's watch] killed 50,000 - 100,000 Libyans last yr & the killing has continued & has spilt over into other African countries; - The on-going US-NATO-GCC-IDF skull-duggery in Syria has cost maybe 25,000 lives & counting; - Af-Pak has cost / is costing another 100,000+ lives; - Iraq cost 500,000 to over 1,000,000+  -&- if Bibi & O-Bomb-em [or Bibi & Raw-Money] go for Iran only God knows how many might perish- hell that might even set the whole World on Fire!   

Anyway- Whatever your views RE 'climate-change', what makes this author @ 'Think {non}Progress' believe that Obama deserves even modest credit for a Green Scheme Program when he ain't said much about a vision for a Green Econ since he forced his Green Jobs point man, Van Jones, out based on some hyped-up BS from Glen{what the Heck}Beck?!? What happened to the wind-turbine & hi-speed rail initiative by using Detroit's under-used auto-factories to spear-head it? After all Obama did bail out GM & Chrystler, so he definitely had leverage, just as he did to push Detroit's big 3's to set CAFE standards at 40mpg by 2016, 50mpg by 2020 & 60mpg by 2025 [instead of a weak-ass 35-40mpg by 2025]. And just how does Obama hyping deep-sea oil drilling [aka 'Drill Baby Drill'] which led to BP's disasterous Gulf Oil 'Spill Baby Spill' fit into a 'Green Scheme'? Or him signing off on gas-fracking, extra-dirty tar-sands oil, & more nuke power [think Fukushima]???

IMO this 'Think{non}Progress' article is a perfaect example of so-called liberals / psuedo-progressives using verbose psuedo-intellectual lame-ass excuses to try to keep progressives  drinking Obama-laid while [as Bev puts it] 'Chopping Cotton on the Dims Plantation'!!! It's about as lame as the recent article by supposed Black 'progressive' Bill Fletcher called 'Obama Record is Besides the Point- That's Why We Should Vote for Him'.

Climate Change

Climate change is the more accurate term and was used by scientists even before Global Warming became popularized.  Climate Change encompasses changes in preciipation rates, sea levels and the stregnth and frequency of storms as well as rising temperatures. The international scientific panel IPCC stands for the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change.

My Take On Climate-Change vs Global Warming...

For over a decade the watch-word was 'Global-warming'. Popular 'Green' authors like George Monbiot [a so-called 'green'-nuke advocate as is Jim Hansen] even wrote books called 'Heat: How to Stop the World From Burning' on the subject of Global-Warming. Even the IPCC often used the term Global Warming. Then in the latter half of the past decade,  there were a series of harsh-cold & snowy winters in the US, Canada &/or Europe. Some even tried to spin how global-warming could result in colder snowier winters, but that sounded too contradictory to most folks. So recently Climate-Change became the perferred term- because climate is kinda like weather, over time it has always changed.

Could This Be a Ploy?

It seems in this age of phone cameras at the ready and as many Pakistanis who apparently are against the use of drones and who you would think would want to document the atrocities to the outside world--why haven't there been any pics of the aftermath of a drone attack? Or hell, even pics of a drone just flying around in the sky? Is it possible this is just military psy ops aimed at americans to get us used to the idea of a sky full of drones? Stranger things have happened.

My first shock of Obama Admin. was first drone attacks

by Obama, reported in the Guardian online site that Sunday,several days after the inauguration, but in the same week:Friday.  I immediately did protest art about the drones Monday, Jan. 26,2009 (xerographic on paper), and renewed with another, updated edition (mail art) on a President's Day holiday.  (Someone suggested I send one to the White House, at the time of the original edition; I did and got a printed card back thanking me for my mail.) Add the other items listed in Jemima Pierre's essay and those are primarily why I voted yesterday as I did.

I voted yesterday. My protest vote: Barbara Lee on the write in line for President 2012.  I wrote a comment after my ballot was mailed, on Mr. Dixon's blog entry from last week on his listening to the (first) debate and why he was voting Green.  I also wrote a comment later, on the Guardian website, on the article about Bruce Springsteen campaigning for Obama and I added the url of BAR at the end.  I got a couple of patronizing sexist replies but several supported a protest vote.